Recap: Prayer and Holy Spirit Administration (Intimacy)
Prayer and the Holy Spirit – his indwelling leading and administration – is a seamless garment. The Spirit helps us in both “closet prayer” as in Matt 6:6f, and in “continual prayer” as in 1Thess 5:17. This is the right and left foot of walking with Jesus day by day. The practice of Spirit administration is both modes of prayer, though I focus here on cultivating ceaseless prayer as a primary means of becoming conscious of the Spirit’s movements and ministry moment by moment – to be led by the Spirit.
How do we practice the Spirit’s presence and administration?
Paul’s amazing view of prayer is to listen and enter and participate in the Trinitarian dialogue by the Spirit (Rom 8:26-27). The Spirit helps us as we pray by praying in us – interceding, even groaning – showing us what to pray, how to pray for it as per God’s mind and will. In so doing we enter the intercessions of Jesus at the Father’s side (Rom 8:34), our high priest who ever lives to pray for us (Heb 7:24-25). So, practically 1): Ask the Spirit for help in prayer, what or who to pray for, and how to pray, being assured that as we pray according to God’s will he will answer (1 John 5:14-15).
This is praying “in the name of Jesus”, in his authority and will (John 14:12-14), and “praying in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18), the Spirit leading and praying in us as per God’s will. Paul says the Spirit reveals to us God’s thoughts, the deep things in God’s heart and mind, so that “we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor 2:9-16). So, practically 2): Learn to listen; cultivate intimate sensitivity and implicit obedience to the Spirit, to spiritually discern the mind of Christ in all things, to be led by the Spirit. Then Christ’s Headship over us communicates his mind and will in and through us by his indwelling Holy Spirit – the Autonomic Nervous System in the Body of Christ.
And “praying in the Spirit on all occasions” (Eph 6:18) includes the practice of praising and praying in tongues: a gift-ability to speak mysteries directly from our spirit to God – with God in the Trinitarian dialogue – inspired by the Spirit (1Cor 14: 2, 14-18). We can pray and sing “with our understanding”: in our known language, with the Spirit’s help. And we can pray and sing “with our spirit”: in unknown languages that God gives, understands and responds to – a mysterious means of direct dialogue in the Godhead. Paul prayed in tongues “more than all of you”, i.e. ongoingly through the day. Practically 3): Pray and praise in tongues as often as you can through the day, allowing the Spirit to commune and intercede through you for people and situations as God wills.
Paul has a further angle to practicing Spirit Administration, to flow in the governing Holy Spirit: “Be very careful how you live, be wise, make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Understand the Lord’s will by being drunk with God’s Spirit… be continually filled with the Spirit: speak to one another and to God in psalms (prayers) and songs (praises) from the Spirit, make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God in everything in the name of Jesus, submitting to one another…” (Eph 5: 15-21). Re-read it and note the command to “be being filled with Spirit”, to be under his continual influence, intoxication, governing thoughts, words and deeds. How? Being filled with Spirit results in, and comes from, praying and praising in the Spirit through the day, cultivating your heart, mind and body as God’s garden of delight, filled with music and thanksgiving for all things, in every situation, all the time! So, practically 4): Develop the discipline of being grateful for all things, praying and praising God in the Spirit in every situation, thinking his thoughts, speaking his words, doing his deeds. Stop grumbling, moaning, criticizing and fault-finding! Don’t worry! Be happy! Praise God!
It’s what Paul says in Phil 4:4-8 (read it!): “Rejoice always! Refuse to be anxious about anything, but in everything talk to God about it and give thanks… then God’s peace (Shalom) will guard your heart and mind. Therefore, fill your mind and think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, beautiful, excellent, and praiseworthy.”
These exercises in Spirit-communion is THE means of discerning and working with the Spirit’s ministry and movements in us, so his supernatural grace-gifts flow through us to those around us: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, discernment, prophetic words, revelation from God, etc (1Cor 12:7-11, teaching on this later in the series).
Other exercises from Church history and from yours truly!
The Church through the ages developed spiritual exercises to make the above practical and applicable in daily life for individual believers and the local church. Gill and I will introduce three of them at a morning retreat (20 Sept, 09:00-12:30, at VCC) – all are welcome to attend! They are three well-known practices, tried and tested from the third and fourth centuries onwards, from both the Catholic and Orthodox traditions:
“Praying the Hours”: formally stopping and praying for a few minutes on certain set hours through the day – following Jesus by reliving key events in his life.
“The Jesus Prayer”: praying a prayer with your breathing to develop the spirit of prayer – your spirit prays subconsciously all the time, even when you sleep!
“The Examen” from Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises (1500s): the daily practice of reflection – discernment of spirits – to examine how and where the Spirit is active in you and your circumstances, and where evil spirit is active. It’s learning to “find God in all things” (Ignatius’ phrase) in order to respond to Holy Spirit and resist evil spirit.
And lastly, Gill and I have developed our own exercise of memorizing and praying a particular prayer through the day, phrase by phrase with our breathing. We’ve found it effective over time in sensitizing all our body faculties to the Spirit’s indwelling, so that one progressively becomes conscious of the Spirit’s administration (intimacy & work). Use or change or omit the adjectives in brackets, as what works for you:
The Partnering Prayer – The Ten Communications of God
Father and Son
My body is your temple
By your Holy Spirit
Sense your (indwelling) presence
Feel your (appropriate) emotions
Think your (wise) thoughts
Hear your (intimate) voice
See your (creative) works
Breathe your (sweet) fragrance
Speak your (life-giving) words
Touch your (broken) creation
Walk your (righteous) ways
Do your (perfect) will
As it is in heaven